§ CAPTAIN PRICE
, in rising to call attention to the form of Government in Jamaica, said, that the Forms of the House would not allow him to make the Motion which he had intended; but, if 692 he had been able to do so, it would have been in these terms—That, in the opinion of this House, the people of Jamaica should be restored to a material share in the management of their own local and financial affairs.There were many hon. Members of the House better fitted to deal with this question than himself. There was one in particular who was especially qualified to do so, the hon. and learned Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Serjeant Simon), whom he was glad to see present, who possessed an intimate knowledge of Jamaica, and who for years had shown himself ready to stand forward as a champion of the rights of the people of that country. But the accidents of the ballot had put this opportunity into his hands, and at another time he should be willing to second the hon. and learned Gentleman. He was afraid the subject which he had to bring forward that night was not one which would interest many hon. Members of the House. The day had gone by, fortunately, when the affairs of Jamaica could not be discussed without raising Party strife. Forty-five years had elapsed since Mr. Burge and Serjeant Mereweather had pleaded at the Bar of the House, in long and eloquent speeches, and pleaded successfully the right of the people of Jamaica to the control of their own affairs. The question in that day resulted in fierce and angry debates, and in the downfall of a powerful Ministry. In these days, he feared, it was more likely to result in a "Count out" of the House; or, at all events, in something very like apathy and inattention. Nevertheless, he felt it his duty to bring the matter forward, and he craved the indulgence of the House for some little time. The Blue Books and Papers recently laid on the Table would have shown hon. Members the state into which the finances of Jamaica had fallen during the 17 years of Crown Government, and the dissatisfaction of the people in consequence. They would have also shown that the matter had been under the consideration of the Government, and that the Secretary of State for the Colonies had taken what he was pleased to call a "new departure," and had promised the people of Jamaica that they should have some control over their own local and financial affairs. He proposed to examine what that really amounted to. There were 693 hon. Members in that House, and he feared their name was "legion," who thought that Jamaica should have no Constitutional form, of Government whatever, and they based their contention upon three grounds. First, they said that a Constitutional form of Government had been tried, and had proved a failure, and that the Assembly was effete and corrupt; secondly, that the people of Jamaica abolished their own Constitution, and, therefore, were out of Court in asking for its restoration; and, thirdly, they said that Crown Government had been tried in Jamaica for 17 or 18 years, and had proved a success. Upon all these points he joined issue with them in the most unhesitating manner, and he would ask leave to examine those allegations; because, by so doing, he should clear the ground of many and rave misconceptions with regard to Jamaica, and also because it would furnish him with arguments directly applicable to the case he had taken in hand. It was not true that the Assembly of Jamaica, which had existed for 200 years, was effete and corrupt, though vague and reckless charges to that effect had been made in Parliament. It had been stated over and over again that the House of Representatives in Jamaica tampered with the finances. He would give an instance of the wild and reckless charges which had been made against the old House of Assembly, and which were generally believed in this country. In the other House of Parliament, when the Act for the abolition of the House of Assembly was being passed, in 1866, Lord Taunton said—In the first place, there was vested in the Jamaica House of Representatives a power of originating money votes "without the sanction of the Crown …. What had been the result? They had ruined the finances of the country utterly."—(3 Hansard,  124–5.)That was said by a Nobleman who had been at the Colonial Office, and who ought to have known better. The House of Representatives had no such power. He (Captain Price) had here the Act of the Constitution of Jamaica of 1854, which would set the matter at rest. That Act—17 Vict., c. 29, s. 23—provided—That the Executive Government should continue to be discharged by the Governor in the same manner as before, and that the exclusive power of proposing any vote of money 694 should vest in and be exercised by him on his sole responsibility.It was, therefore, absurd to say, as Lord Taunton did, that the House of Assembly had the power of originating Money Votes. It was also a mistake to say, as Lord Grey did, that the House of Assembly had secured the right of expending the grants made for the Public Service. Not only did the Legislature of Jamaica not possess the power which was ascribed to it, but it had never sought to obtain it. An attempt was once made to endow the popular Assembly with the right of originating money grants; but the origin of the attempt was not to be found in the Assembly itself, but in the Representative of the Crown, Sir Charles Darling. That this was the case was proved by a despatch of the Duke of Newcastle, dated January 29th, 1861, from which he would read an extract—I find in these Papers'' (relating to the controversy which had been raised) ''voluminous arguments, conducted on both sides with much ability, respecting the theory and principles of the system of government established in Jamaica by the Act of 1854, but scarcely any information as to the origin of the disagreement which has broken up the harmony with which, for more than six years, the Legislature and successive Governors of the Colony, much to the credit of all, had co-operated for the public good …. I regret that the controversy respecting these principles was provoked by your requiring from your Executive Committee a concurrence in what I conceive to be a very erroneous view on your part of the Governor's position in respect of his responsibility for acts done in Executive Committee.He had quoted this to show that down to 1862, at all events, the Secretary of State for the Colonies had not considered the House of Assembly to be corrupt or effete; that he was satisfied with the working of the Constitution Act, and that harmony prevailed. But he would show what was the opinion of the Governor of the Island from that date down to within a few months of the abolition of the House of Assembly. In his speech on opening the House of Assembly in November, 1862, Mr. Eyre said—The general revenue of the Island has improved, and an increase exceeding the estimates has been yielded …. With a flourishing revenue, I rely with confidence upon your making adequate provision," &c., &c.In opening the Session in the following year, he said— 695I am happy to acquaint you that the re-, venue of the country has on the whole exceeded that of last year.And again, in 1864, after a lengthened tour throughout the Island, he spoke in the same way of the satisfactory state of the finances, and described the people as beingOne and all animated by the same spirit of warm loyalty, considerate kindness, and generous hospitality.The same people whom a few months after it suited him to describe as little less than devils, and the country as being on the brink of a volcano. With this testimony, then, what grounds were there for charging the late House of Assembly with being corrupt, and with having played "ducks and drakes" with the Public Revenues? There had, in modern times, been three crises in the history of Jamaica. There was the crisis of 1854, when the new Constitution was granted to the Island, which was brought about by the laudable wish on the part of the Representatives of the people to keep down expenditure, the Crown having insisted on the maintenance of extravagant establishments which at that time were quite unsuitable. A similar crisis occurred in 1865, when the House of Assembly was abolished. The questions which had occupied the attention of the Legislature during the two or three years before that event were chiefly questions connected with the misappropriation of the Revenues of the Colony by the Representatives of the Crown. The third crisis was that which was taking place at the present time, and this also had been brought about by the extraordinary expenditure for which the Representatives of the Crown were responsible. In connection with the extraordinary misconception existing in England concerning the Legislature of Jamaica, he would mention the remark made by the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Wodehouse), on a former occasion, to the effect that the old House of Assembly, abolished in 1865, was "little better than a bear garden of shouting and screaming Negroes and Jews." To show how completely erroneous such an idea was, he (Captain Price) would quote what had been written on the subject by a gentleman who had a thorough acquaintance with the Island. In that account it was stated that out of the 47 Members of whom the House consisted 696 at the time, no less than 37 were Whites, 34 had been educated in England, and a very large majority were men who had been appointed Justices of the Peace. Ten were Coloured men, and only three were Black. People in this country who had not lived in the East or West Indies were often very sensitive as to what they called a "touch of the tarbrush." And the late Mr. G. W. Gordon, of whom this House had heard so much, was generally set down as a sort of Cetewayo, when, in reality, he was only slightly coloured. It was absolutely untrue, therefore, to describe the Assembly as having been composed of Negroes; and as to the Jews, he would leave the hon. Member (Mr. Wodehouse) to discuss that matter with Gentlemen of that persuasion in this House. He (Captain Price) could not help remarking, however, that it was somewhat strange to hear from the Liberal Benches that we were to be guided in this manner by considerations of race and of creed. That might be one of the doctrines of esoteric Radicalism; but he ventured to think it was not to be found amongst the generally accepted principles of the Liberal Party. Then it had been said that the Island had voluntarily given up its Constitution. When, in a former debate on the Florence affairs, it had been said that the inhabitants had their Representative Constitution taken from them for reasons of State, the hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney) had said— "No; it was surrendered." He (Captain Price) maintained that it had been taken from them by a coup d'état. It might be said that he ought to bring documentary evidence of such a charge; but it must be remembered that a coup d'état was only arranged and brought about by confidential despatches, not accessible to private Members; but he thought he could give the House conclusive evidence upon this point. He would refer to the words of Mr. Cardwell himself, in 1866, on the question of whether the Jamaica Government Bill should be a temporary or a permanent measure. Mr. Cardwell said that—The view which he himself had always entertained was that a permanent measure was necessary for the welfare of Jamaica, and before the disturbances he was engaged in prosecuting inquiries, which he hoped would load to the appointment of a Committee and consequent legislation."—(3 Hansard,  1177.)697 What did that show? If it proved anything, it proved that long before the House of Assembly ever dreamed of making even a temporary surrender of its privileges, the Secretary of State had been in communication with the Governor of the Island, with a view to overthrowing the Constitution of the Colony, and of getting its affairs entirely into the hands of the Colonial Office. But there were despatches in the Parliamentary Blue Books which would throw additional light upon this. There was the despatch of Mr. Eyre to Mr. Cardwell, of April 19th, 1865, in which he strongly condemned Representative Institutions for Jamaica. His despatch of May 6th, in which he recommended Her Majesty's Government to abrogate the existing Constitution, and also a despatch from Mr. Cardwell to Mr. Eyre, dated July 7th, 1865, in which he said—If the majority of the House of Assembly could be induced to pass enactments in amendment of its own Constitution, Her Majesty's Government would be ready to give these enactments its most favourable consideration.These despatches were written long before the matter was suggested to the House of Assembly, and conclusively point to the coup d'état he (Captain Price) had described, and to the fact that the Colonial Office were seeking to defraud the Island of Jamaica of its Constitutional privileges, so as to get the management of the Island into their own clutches. It was quite true, in some sense, that the Constitution of Jamaica was surrendered by the majority of the House of Assembly; but it was surrendered as a fortress might be surrendered, when starved out and incapable of further resistance. Let them look at the history of the question as known to Parliament. When the Bill was introduced, in 1866, it was represented as a temporary measure; and it passed its first and second readings and its Committee stage as a temporary measure. Mr. Cardwell, on every occasion, explained that it was necessary that the Bill should only be a temporary measure, as inquiries were to be made as to the strange circumstances of the self-abolition of the House of Assembly. On the Report of the Committee, Lord Norton—then Mr. Adderley—moved, in a very thin House, that the Bill be made permanent. Mr. Cardwell hesitated for some time, and coquetted, 698 and, "vowing he would ne'er consent, consented," and the Constitution of Jamaica thus became permanently abolished without the slightest reference to the people of Jamaica, whose wishes had never been consulted, and without one syllable of that inquiry which Mr. Cardwell had declared to be necessary. What were the events which led up to this extraordinary act of political suicide? What had been occupying the attention of the Legislature immediately previous to this act? There were two important subjects that occupied the attention of the House of Assembly shortly before it was abolished. There was the great Tramway swindle, in which officers appointed by the Crown improperly used the public monies with the approval of the Government. For this the House of Assembly passed a Vote of Censure on the Governor, and proved themselves effective guardians of the public purse. Then arising out of this was the Espent case, which would be found amongst the Parliamentary Papers. This was a case in which a Member of the Assembly, who held an office under the Crown, opposed the action of the Governor on the Tramway matter, and was called upon by the Governor to give up either his office or his seat. He declined, and the Assembly backed him up, treating the matter as a question of "Privilege." The House of Assembly insisted that the matter should be referred to the Law Officers of the Crown, and Sir Roundell Palmer and Sir Robert Collier gave the matter entirely in favour of the House of Assembly. These were the two matters, and the only two, which seriously engaged the attention of the Legislature during the three years immediately preceding the fall of the Constitution, and in both cases the popular Chamber had been proved to be absolutely in the right. Then the disturbances occurred, and, in a moment of panic and despair, the House of Assembly agreed, under strong pressure, to make a temporary surrender of their Privileges. He did not say that they were justified in doing that. On the contrary, he thought they were wrong. But there was some excuse. They had seen that, in all their struggles, the Representative of the Crown was backed up by the Colonial Office at home. All their representations were ignored. They saw one of their Members, who had been 699 prominent in opposing the Governor, arrested, tried by a mock court martial, and hanged. No wonder that, in utter despair, they were induced to throw up the sponge and fall an easy prey to the machinations of the Colonial Office. Thus fell a Constitution which had existed for 200 years, and against which no definite charge had ever been made. He doubted whether, in modern history, there was any parallel to this extraordinary occurrence. Certainly Ireland, though it had sometimes been quoted as a case in point, offered no resemblance, for she was not deprived of representation. Perhaps the case of Denmark furnished the nearest parallel, when, in the 17th century, her House of Representatives, worn out by its struggles with the Nobles, voluntarily surrendered its privileges into the hands of the Crown. Surely, with such an example as that before them, the people of Jamaica should have foreseen that, in making even a temporary surrender of their privileges, they were abandoning liberty, and that, in striving to escape from the Scylla of bad government, they were only precipitating themselves into the Charybdis of a Government absolutely despotic and wholly unsympathetic. But what was the form of Government which had replaced the old Constitution? That would bring him to the third argument which he had to answer, and to a consideration of the Papers now on the Table of the House. The House was asked to believe that the Government which had existed in Jamaica for the last 17 years was the most appropriate one for the country, and had been completely successful. One of the charges against the old Constitution of Jamaica was, that the House of Assembly had increased the Debt of the Colony. Lord Russell, in 1866, gave as one reason for abolishing the House of Assembly that "it had very much increased the Debt of the Island." But what were the facts? In 1866, after 200 years of Constitutional Government, the Debt of the Island was about £600,000; whereas now, after 17 years of beneficent Crown management, the Debt of the Island had been nearly trebled. The Debt in 1866 was not a large one for a Colony of the importance of Jamaica. It was one well within the powers of the Colony to deal with, and the interest upon it had always been 700 paid to the day, and to the uttermost farthing. Let him examine the items of the present Debt. About £500,000 had been incurred in taking over the existing railway. He had nothing to say against that as an act of policy; but he objected strongly to the raising of such a loan without the consent of the taxpayers; and as to the way in which the loan was being dealt with, he would only point to the Report of the Royal Commissioners, who said—We consider that financial operations of this kind tend to impair the credit of a country.Then something like £130,000 had been raised to pay for the Rio Cobre irrigation scheme, which everyone knew was an utter failure; and a sum little short of £300,000 for the Ewarton extension of the railway. As to this last item, if they took the dictum of the Commissioners, that the necessary charges to be defrayed before any profit could be looked for would amount to about 13 per cent on the capital monies raised, they would have to look for earnings of at least £39,000 a-year; but he had it on the best authority that the receipts could not be more than £5,000 yearly. Were the taxpayers of Jamaica to have such a burden imposed upon them without their consent? On this point he had asked the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies the other day if he would produce the estimate of receipts on which this work was undertaken; and the reply he got was that it was—Undesirable to produce Papers respecting the details of public works in a Colony, unless there has been sonic serious controversy on the subject calling for the interference of Parliament.He (Captain Price) must be permitted to say that Questions of that kind were put, not as the outcome of serious controversy in the House of Commons, but to prevent serious controversies out-of-doors. He ventured to remind the hon. Member (Mr. Evelyn Ashley) that it was precisely the refusal to produce Estimates for examination in a similar case in Jamaica some years ago which led to that "serious controversy" between the Jamaica Legislature and the Crown on the Tramway Case—a controversy which shook the Constitution of Jamaica to its foundations, and brought about those State intrigues to which he had referred in the earlier part of his speech. But 701 turning from questions of expenditure, which he hoped would be dealt with more fully by those who followed him, he would make one quotation from the Report of the Commissioners as to the education question. After stating that the expenditure in 1881 was six times as great as in 1861, though the number of children attending school, and the number of those able to read and write was only twice as great, they say— "This is a most unsatisfactory and discreditable state of affairs." But far more important than any of these matters was the discontented state of the people of the Island, in regard to which very ample evidence was forthcoming in the shape of reports of meetings which had been held in the Island, and Memorials which had been sent by the inhabitants to the Home Government from several parts of it. He believed there was not a town in Jamaica where public meetings had not been held upon the subject, and all were unanimous as to what they required. The House must remember that it was not a revival of the old Assembly that was being asked for, but an extension of the unofficial element in the Council. In November last he had the honour of presenting a deputation to Lord Derby, and his Lordship had promised that he would make some change in the form of Government, and he suggested that the unofficial Members should henceforth be elective instead of nominated. This was a step in the right direction, but a very short one, for the elected Representatives would still be in a hopeless minority, the official Members being of equal number, the Governor, as President, having two votes in addition. Lord Derby had also provided that, "as a general rule," the official Members should not be required to vote against the unofficial, providing that six of the latter were present and agreed. But the official Members were always at hand, whereas the elected Members had to come up from distant parts of the country, so that the latter would often be at a great disadvantage. Moveover, this majority of two to one, which Lord Derby required amongst the elected Members, in order to entitle their views to due consideration, would have to be increased to three to one in the case of the absence of a Member, and to as much as six to one in the event of the 702 absence of two elected Members. The fact was, all power of legislating rested absolutely in the hands of the Crown. It was Poyning's Law over again. Lord Carlisle had been sent out to Jamaica in the 17th century to administer that law, by which the Assembly was required to pass, without alteration, laws which had been prepared by the Crown. They were to have the semblance of being Acts of the Legislature of Jamaica, when, in truth, they had been previously framed by the Ministry in this country. This was rejected by the Assembly, and the Imperial Parliament was forced to abandon it. And now, so long as the Acts passed by the Council should meet with the approval of the Governor for the time being, the pleasing fiction of their being passed by the Representatives of the people would be kept up; but, immediately that the Governor should choose to consider the measure unadvisable, he might suspend the "general rule," and, wheeling his official battalion into line, could outvote the Representatives, informing the Colonial Office of what he had done with the full certainty of being upheld by that Body. And now let him show the House how absurdly inadequate and unnatural the proposed system of representation must be as regards numbers. It was proposed to elect 9 Members, three for each "county;" but the division of the Island into "counties" was little known, and might be regarded as obsolete. The natural division of the Island was into "parishes," as they were there called, though they answered more nearly to the counties at home, some of these so-called "parishes" being as large as Bedfordshire or Huntingdon. Ask a Negro of average intelligence what county he belonged to, and he would not be able to tell you; but ask him what parish, and he would tell you at once. For many reasons it would be far better to apportion the Representatives according to parishes, or "districts" as they ought to be called; and he hoped the Government would see their way to granting the wishes of the people— namely, to have one Member for each district, with an additional one for the important City of Kingston, making 15 in all. Even then, the proportion of representation would be smaller than was allowed to many Colonies of less importance, and which had not been ac- 703 customed to Representative Institutions. Take, for instance, West Australia, with a population of only 30,000. The number of elected Members there was 14, as against 6 official and 4 nominated Members. In Natal, with a much smaller population than Jamaica, there were 23 elected Members, as against 7 official, and the same proportion existed in many other Colonies. He might be told that the movement in Jamaica was not bonâ fide, but was only got up among a certain class in the Island. That he denied most emphatically. He would ask the House to consider that the 9 Gentlemen who had been appointed unofficial Members of the Assembly, and who were appointed by the Governor, must be considered Gentlemen of considerable intelligence, integrity, and patriotism. They had unanimously resigned their office, because they contended they had no power whatever of representing the people of Jamaica, and because they would not be parties to such a sham. The movement was going on in every corner of Jamaica, and if there had been any unreasonable or intemperate representations made, as had been alleged, he asked Her Majesty's Government to treat them as the froth which invariably accompanied every ebullition of popular feeling, and, sweeping this lightly on one side, to look down into the clearer depths of this agitation, in order to discern there what were the real causes of those grievances of which Jamaica now complained. If they would do that he felt assured that they would see the necessity of restoring to the people such a control over their own affairs as would prevent a recurrence of those baneful results which had been brought about by Crown Government. What those results were he would sum up in half-a-dozen words, and then his task that evening was done. The results were these — the present form of Government in Jamaica had nearly trebled the Debt of the Colony; had enormously increased the public expenditure; had made a hash of the question of public education; had shaken the credit of the Colony, and had spread broadcast throughout the Island the gravest dissatisfaction. That was the case he had to lay before the Government, and which he asked them to meet; and the burden of proof lay upon the Government to prove that 704 the people of Jamaica were not fit to have Representative Institutions. It now only remained for him to apologize to the House for having occupied so much of its time, and to thank the House sincerely for its patient attention. He could not hope to have interested many in this question. The subject was a dry one, and there were but few who, in these days, were interested in the affairs of Jamaica. It was but a little Island in a distant sea; but it was an Island whose history recalled to them memories of great events connected with the discovery, the growth, and the development of the Western World. It was a Colony which had taken no small part in developing the wealth and the greatness of this Empire. Its people for 200 years had enjoyed the same Constitutional privileges as ourselves. Of these they had been wrongfully deprived. They now cried aloud to us for justice. He asked the House of Commons not to turn a deaf ear to the passionate prayer of these people—not to crush out aspirations which were ennobling, and which were the very birthright of every British citizen; but to restore to them that control over their own local and financial affairs which could alone be adequately exercised by the chosen Representatives of a free and enlightened people.
§ MR. SERJEANT SIMON
Sir, at this late hour of the night, and after the exhaustive speech of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Devon-port (Captain Price), I shall not detain the House at any great length. I shall not touch the historical—I had almost said, the pro-historical—part of the question. I will simply remind the House that for two centuries, down to 1865, Jamaica had possessed and enjoyed the unspeakable benefit of Representative Government. Down to that time she had been accustomed to manage her own local affairs, to make her own laws, to raise and appropriate her Revenue in accordance with the views and the wishes of her people, expressed through their elected Representatives in the House of Assembly. In the panic which arose out of the Insurrection of 1865, she was induced to part with her ancient Constitution. Seizing the occasion of the panic, the Governor (Mr. Eyre) appealed to the House of Assembly. He called upon them, in order to avert "a 705 mighty danger which threatened the land," to "immolate themselves on the altar of patriotism." Under the influence—I may say the pressure—brought to bear upon them by the Governor, the House of Assembly surrendered their ancient Constitution. This was done without any appeal to the electors, and, as I have always considered, without any legal Constitutional right. The House of Assembly, which was elected for the purpose of making laws for the government of the country, had no right, in my judgment, without a special appeal to the people, to put an end to its existence. In doing so, however, the House was by no means unanimous. It was only after much discussion that the act of self-annihilation was carried by a majority. I have gone into this matter, because it has been objected that the Assembly, having surrendered the old Constitution, are, to use the words of the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (Captain Price), "out of Court; "that Jamaica has no right now to ask for the restoration of what has been surrendered by her own Representatives. I have shown how this was done, and what led to it. But it is only due to the late Assembly to state that, in surrendering the old Constitution, they had no idea of parting with the right of self-government. When they passed the Bill putting an end to the old Constitution, they proposed another Representative Institution in its place. The old system of government had become too elaborate and too complicated for the then condition of the country; and many of the most intelligent of its inhabitants, for many years prior to 1865, had been of opinion that a simpler machinery, still representative, would be preferable. Accordingly—and I may say it was with this object in view—that the House of Assembly passed the Bill which has been mentioned, at the same time, as I have said, proposing a new and a small Representative Council. Her Majesty's Government refused to sanction the new proposal, and, instead, established the system of Crown Government, "pure and simple," which has prevailed to the present time. From the moment of its establishment the people have protested against it, and from time to time since they have memorialized the Government, praying for the restoration of Representative Institutions. These appeals have 706 not succeeded, until necessity has brought about the modification lately proposed. Let us now see what the system of Crown Government has been, and what are its results. It was said that the affairs of Jamaica had been so grossly mismanaged by the old House of Assembly that a strong Government had become necessary, in order to save the country, especially its finances, from ruin. With the permission of the House, I will test for a moment or two this statement. Under Crown Government, a Governor was sent out with a salary of £7,000 a-year, and other officials receiving salaries, considered by the Royal Commissioners lately sent to investigate the matter of expenditure, in many instances too high. There was to be a Legislative Council composed of these officials and nine unofficial Members nominated by the Governor. The official Members had, and could possibly have, no knowledge whatever of the country, or its requirements. They had no stake or interest in it, no concern in its welfare. Their connection with it and its inhabitants was purely official. Yet these gentlemen, drawing large salaries from the hard earnings of an impoverished community, were so placed as to over-ride the nine unofficial Members, who were gentlemen belonging to the country, having a knowledge of its people and of their wants, and whose presence in the Council was intended as a means of informing and guiding the official Members in matters of legislation, and of finance especially. With such discordant elements, differences of opinion were sure to arise between the Governor and his official staff on the one hand, and the unofficial Members on the other. Conflicts of this kind from time to time did arise. The Governor presided at the Council, and, as I have been told, sat in great state on a daï s wearing his Windsor uniform and a cocked hat on his head; and at the conclusion of a debate he would reply all round, knocking down the arguments of the unofficial Members like "nine pins." Of course, the House will see how impossible it was that such a system could long work, especially in a community accustomed to self-government. No man of spirit would consent to retain a seat in a Council so constituted, and, so to speak, so manipulated. The House will remember the 707 case of the Florence, which was discussed last Session. The case of the Florence brought matters to an issue. The unofficial Members refused to sanction the Vote which the Governor asked for, in order to pay, out of the taxation of the people, for the errors and blunders of the Government, over whose Members they had no kind of control. The consequence was a complete deadlock. Persons holding situations under the Government were appointed to the Council upon the distinct undertaking that they were to support the Vote on account of the Florence. The Vote was carried accordingly, and the unofficial Members, in a body, resigned. In such a state of things the Government could not be carried on. It was impossible to persist in a system so repugnant to the feelings, the habits, and traditions of the country, and a modification of the Constitution is about to take place. But, before I go into the subject, I wish to say a word upon the question of finance. It has been said that under the old Constitution the finances had been greatly mismanaged. Let us see what has been done in this respect by Crown Government. I had the honour, the Session before last, to move for a Return of the Revenue of Jamaica, including Ways and Means, and the Expenditure for the 15 years prior to 1865, and for the 15 years since under Crown Government. This is the result. The Expenditure for the 15 years under Crown Government exceeds by £2,500,000 and upwards the Expenditure of the previous 15 years under the old system; and for the last two years there have been, deficits, and another is expected in the current year. In 1865 the Public Debt was £607,739. It is now £1,132,710. And what is there to show for this vast increase of Expenditure and of Debt? It will be said that there have been railways and other public works. I do not deny the usefulness of some of these; but even here the Expenditure has not been justified by the results. Works have been undertaken which were beyond the means of the Colony, and which, in its present condition, and for a long time, I fear, will not be self-paying Take the case of the railways. From 1879 to 1882 no less a sum than £540,000 has been expended on railways. The House would naturally conclude that there has been a considerable amount of 708 rail way communication established. As a matter of fact, the whole railways of the country consist of about 29 miles, and it is proposed to lay down some 20 miles more. Yet £540,000 is the expenditure for railways. How such a sum could have been incurred I am at a loss to understand. Again, the hon. and gallant Member (Captain Price) has mentioned the Rio Cobre Waterworks, a good undertaking if it had paid, but it has not. The Commissioners report it as a failure. Yet these works have cost £210,800 from 1869 to 1879; and since that year £7,000 more for repairs. I could go through other items in the Public Accounts with similar results; but I will not weary the House any further with figures. The House sees the enormous increase of expenditure in a very short time under Crown Government, and if hon. Members will take the trouble to examine the Report of the Commissioners, they will see how unjustifiable much of this expenditure has been. The increase of population cannot account for it. In the last 20 years that increase has reached about 150,000, or a little over. Such an increase, I say, can in no way account for such an excess of expenditure. As in matters of finance, so in general legislation. The District Courts were among the new establishments under Crown Government. The Commissioners condemn them as a failure and as an extravagance as well. In point of fact, the whole system pursued since 1865 shows the utter absence of knowledge of the country and of sympathy with its people on the part of those who have been sent to govern it. The gentlemen who have been sent out have been persons whose lives have been spent in official routine elsewhere. They have brought with them a mere official eye to bear upon public affairs, and a determination to carry out a particular policy, utterly regardless of the feelings of the country. A Governor goes out, and, before he has been a fortnight in the place, he reports that the country is not ripe for Representative Institutions. What on earth could he know or have learnt of the place, in one short fortnight, to justify him in making such a Report? He had, no doubt, heard it from, some official who had been there a little longer. In this way the Colonial Office is misled, and kept in ignorance of the true state of the Colony. This system 709 of government by experts is new to Jamaica; and, depend upon it, it will not succeed. But it will be said that the state of things will be changed by the new scheme. I have no doubt whatever—and I am glad of this opportunity to say it publicly—that I believe that it is Lord Derby's wish and intention to act justly, even generously, towards the people of Jamaica; and I can well understand how it is that he should move cautiously in the changes he proposes, seeing that the representative system has been in abeyance for 17 years. Time, no doubt, will be required to test the working of a Representative Council under these circumstances, and with a franchise entirely new and much extended beyond the old franchise. At the same time, I must observe that self-government is not new to Jamaica. The people have been accustomed to it. The great bulk of the present population have lived under it, and its traditions remain to all. Self-government, therefore, would not be a mere experiment; and if it is to be restored at all, I think it may safely be done now and completely, not by halves. Either the people are to be trusted or they are not. If they are worthy of trust, then, I say, trust them completely. Let the representation you propose to give them be a reality. What will the new scheme do? Will it give a real representation? It simply converts the unofficial element of the Council, who were formerly nominated by the Governor, into Members elected by the people. They are still to be in a minority. The official element is still to prevail. It is true that some concession is to be given to the representative Members in matters of finance, and that in general legislation the Governor is instructed to treat them with consideration. Yet, after all, the power of the Crown remains in the Governor and the official element. So long as there is no vital question, and the representative Members behave themselves in a becoming manner—for this is really what it amounts to—they are to be considered; but woe be unto them if they should take a strong view upon a vital question of Imperial policy. Englishmen though they be, Representatives of the people, of their wishes and their interests, which they have been sent to enforce and to watch over, they are to 710 be over-ridden, as before, under Crown Government. This for a time might not happen. Under a Governor like Sir Henry Norman—who, I believe, from all I have heard, will exercise a wise discretion and a conciliatory spirit—difficulties might not arise; but who can speak for his Successor, or for the Successor of the noble Earl now at the head of the Colonial Office? Of this there is no manner of doubt—the people of Jamaica have received the new scheme with intense disappointment. They have had experience of Crown Government, and they know how a Council, composed as the new one is to be, is likely to work. From one end of the country to the other, and among all classes of the community—Whites, Coloured, Blacks, planters, merchants, traders, peasant proprietors, and others —the Island has been ringing with one loud protest of disappointment since the announcement of the new scheme. At one meeting, among the speakers were four Black men—peasant proprietors— and everywhere, as I have said, men of every class and complexion are protesting against the new scheme. Among other things, they protest against the Governor's presence in the Council. Under the late system, it was bad enough that he should be in conflict with his own nominees. Under the new scheme, if differences arise, he will be in conflict with the people themselves, through their Representatives. Surely it is not wise to place the Queen's Representative in such a position. I would suggest that the Council should appoint their own President, and that the Governor should be kept free from political discussions, and that the right of veto should be reserved to him. If the new scheme is to have a fair trial, I believe this to be a vital point. The Governor should not be brought into the Council to overawe them by his presence, or be made to assume the character of a public debater. The people of Jamaica have never been accustomed to this sort of thing. It lowers the Governor in public respect, and does not, and cannot, advance the interests of good government. Sir, I shall no longer detain the House. I have endeavoured to lay before it, to some extent, the grievances of a country which is one of the most ancient and most loyal, as it was formerly one of the most valuable, Possessions of the 711 British Crown. Its prosperity has, for a long time, passed away. For many years its people have suffered under vicissitudes for which they were in no way answerable. Imperial legislation brought about suddenly a social transition which entailed widespread misfortune. Still, they have borne up, striving to do their best under the new conditions. I believe that prosperity is yet in store for them; but it will largely depend upon the wisdom displayed at head-quarters here whether, and for how long, better times shall be delayed. I undertake to say that there are no people under the sun who might be more easily governed than the people of Jamaica. They are a warmhearted, generous people; but they love freedom, and they value the exercise of it. They are devotedly attached to the Mother Country, and are proud of being born and of living under the British Flag. When a Jamaica man proposes to visit England, he talks not of going to England, but of going "home." They send their children to this country for education, and they return with a cultured intelligence, which fits them for the various avocations of life. I have known men in Jamaica—coloured men, too—whose abilities and attainments would have done honour to any station in this country. There are such men there now. England must not turn a deaf ear to their appeals. She has not always dealt wisely or fairly by her Colonies. At one time she has spoilt and caressed them; at another she has treated them somewhat like a stepmother. She has found out her mistake. Let her not repeat it now. I have spoken of the people of Jamaica as I know them, from long personal knowledge. It is the land of my birth; and although I have not now any pecuniary interests there, I feel, and shall always feel, a deep interest in her welfare, and in the well-being of her inhabitants. I trust that this discussion will lead Her Majesty's Government to reconsider the position they have taken; and if they do not see their way at the present time to give that complete representation which the people of Jamaica ask for, and to which I think they are entitled, I hope they will hold out some hope of it hereafter; and, in the meantime, announce such modifications of their new scheme as will render it less objectionable and more likely to 712 conciliate the disappointment which it has occasioned.
§ MR. EVELYN ASHLEY
said, he was not prepared for the hon. and gallant Member opposite (Captain Price) entering into a justification of the late House of Assembly; and he thought that, perhaps, it was fortunate he was not prepared, because, otherwise, he should have thought it his duty to detain the House by statements of a detailed character. The hon. and gallant Member opposite, and other hon. Members, had pointed out that the House of Assembly and Representative Government had lasted over 200 years, and that during that time there had only been three crises. He (Mr. Evelyn Ashley) would point out that, no doubt, until slavery was abolished in Jamaica, their Representative Government was a very simple affair. It was purely a White oligarchy, and, therefore, there was no reason why difficulties or conflicts should arise. The difficulties began when the slaves were emancipated in 1839. Then came the first real embarrassments in the Island. They were brought about very much by the anger of the planters at that emancipation, and their refusal, in effect, to accept offers of money to promote emigration into the Island. Then there was the crisis in 1854, and what did that arise from? That arose from anger on the part of the Assembly because England, the Mother Country, had got rid of the differential duties, and the crisis then was very severe; and, although he did not want to argue this point, he would remind the House that the action of the House of Assembly on that occasion struck most directly at the credit of the Island. If they referred to the Papers on the subject there would be found an indictment made by the Governor, in which he said the people were proposing almost to repudiate their obligations under statute, for the payment of their debt, and that it was only by the action of the Council, who refused to pass the Bill sent up to them, that the discredit of that was avoided. It was because of the action of the House of Assembly, in 1854, that the power of initiating Money Votes was taken away from them. Then the last crisis was in 1866. He would not argue with his hon. and gallant Friend as to whether the surrender was unanimous or not on the part of the 713 House of Assembly; but his impression was that the surrender was unanimous. At any rate, when hon. Members talked about the success of the late Assembly, they ought to lay the whole state of the case before the House; but hon. Members who had spoken that night had taken good care not to inform the House that the House of Assembly, which they seemed to consider a model that should be imitated in the new arrangements, was the result of the election by an electoral roll, which, in 1866, had a total of only 1,700 souls out of a population of over 450,000; while some Members of that House represented only four, or five, or 10 voters. That was not a model, he thought, that anyone could wish to follow. Without taking up time and arguing the matter, he must say that anybody who had studied the history of Jamaica from the emancipation in 1839 until the collapse of the House of Assembly in 1866 must see that the old system had broken down completely, and that the final collapse was the direct result of years of erroneous legislation, reckless jobbery and bribery, and the impossibility of obtaining the services of a sufficient number of competent and independent men as Members of the Assembly. That last difficulty had been one of the great difficulties of the old Assembly, and had been the cause of waste of time, of squabbling and bickerings; and that was really the indictment to be brought against the old House of Assembly; and the inhabitants of Jamaica had felt absolutely convinced of its justice, or they would not have surrendered as they did. The Black population had absolutely no interest whatever in the old House of Assembly; and, as the hon. and learned Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Serjeant Simon) had said, during its last three years there was not a single Black man in the Assembly, although at one time there had been three. The hon. and gallant Member opposite (Captain Price) had said these men were not Black, but Coloured men; but he (Mr. Evelyn Ashley) ventured to assert that the Coloured men in Jamaica were as distinct and separate in interest and sympathy from the Black population as the White people were. In fact, he would go further, and say that the Coloured population were further removed than the White in feeling and in sympathy 714 from the Black population. He would draw attention to the figures on this point, because nobody could judge of the question unless he was in possession of those figures. The population of Jamaica at the present day was 580,000 in round numbers. Of these, 14,400 only were White, and 110,000 were Coloured; while the Black population numbered nearly 450,000. In 1861, when the last Census before the surrender of the Constitution was taken, the White population was 13,800, the Coloured population was 81,000, and the Black population 346,000. Those figures showed that while the increase of population during the last 20 years had been only 4 per cent among the White population, it had been nearly 30 per cent among the Black population. Whenever hon. Members came forward and asked for the restoration of the old system, there had always been associated with that demand the old high property qualification for elected Members. [Mr. Serjeant SIMON: Not necessarily.] On that point he should like his hon. and learned Friend, before denying it, to communicate with his friends in Jamaica. Such a high property qualification would exclude anything like Black representation in the Assembly. As to the general question, it must be remembered that the result of establishing a high franchise in Jamaica would be that political power would be at once handed over to a particular class; while, on the other hand, if the franchise were made low, that would let in the agitator, and would lead to the disturbance of all social and industrial interests, bribery and jobbery, and, in the end, to riot and bloodshed. As to the want of education, he would point out that some of the items which had led to increased expenditure since 1866 were items which he might boast of. One of these items was education, which had risen from only £3,000 in 1864 to £26,000 in 1880. [Captain PRICE: With what result?] With a great result; for the Negro population had risen greatly in the social scale. No doubt, faults in the system had been discovered; but Inspectors were not sent to praise a system. They did not, however, say that good work had not been done; and he must confess that he considered the Report of the Commission on the Island very satisfactory. The Commission were sent out as critics, to put their 715 hands on weak points. Another item of increased expenditure was that for immigration; and public works and railways were other elements. He did not deny that there had been increased expenditure, but there had been a large increase of population; and, at the same time, the income had greatly risen. The hon. and learned Member for Dewsbury had referred to there having been deficits during the period of Crown Government; but he (Mr. Evelyn Ashley) had only been able to find two or three years of deficit. Up to the time of the assumption by the Crown of the Government of the Island, he thought it would be found that a deficit was always the order of the day, and that the Expenditure always exceeded the Revenue. As to the Debt, no doubt there was an increase in that; but that was owing to the works of which he had spoken, and the Debt in Jamaica was by no means larger in proportion than the Debts of many of the surrounding countries. When the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite talked of the credit of the Island having gone down under Crown Administration, he did not know what the test of credit was. He was not a mercantile man, nor a man who had influence in the City; but he had always been told that the rate at which money could be borrowed was the real test of credit; and, if that were so, he must inform his hon. Friends that the credit of the Island—that credit which existed in the money market—was better under Crown Administration than it was before, and the last Government Railway Debentures were issued at 4 per cent. He would now leave the subject of the defence of the Crown Government, or the attack upon the old state of things, because, as his hon. and learned Friend behind him had acknowledged, the Colonial Office had come to the decision that a change must be made. Now, it must be obvious to everybody who considered the history and antecedents of Jamaica, with its population of different races, different sympathies, and different interests, that what Jamaica wanted could be summed up by saying that it ought to have a form of Government in which the Crown would in ultimate resort remain supreme. There was too much risk of collision between classes—too much risk of excitement and agitation—to allow it to be arranged that the Crown should not be 716 supreme in the last resort. But there ought to be a strong Government for all classes and interests, and that Government should have the confidence of the entire community. Now, he denied that the old Government of Jamaica —the Government which ceased in 1866 —had the confidence of the entire community. He denied that totally, and he declared, emphatically, that that Government had not the confidence of the great masses of the people of the Island. Under these circumstances, the Secretary of State had proposed, and was about to put into the form of an Order in Council, a new form of Government for Jamaica. He (Mr. Evelyn Ashley) would ask, was that new form of Government a sham, or was it not? He would, in a very few words, state to the House what were the provisions for this new form of Government; and he thought hon. Gentlemen would come to the conclusion that what was proposed was not a sham, but a real bonâ fide extension, in the words of the Motion on the Paper—To the people of Jamaica, of a material share in the management of their own local and financial affairs.First of all, he would take the nominated portion of the Council, which would partly consist of ex officio Members, who, by virtue of their office, would be Members of the Council. One of these would be the senior military officer in command, and he was not an official who would necessarily be at the bidding and order of the Governor. Indeed, the senior military officer was a thoroughly independent man, and just as likely to take a view contrary to that of the Government as favourable to it. There would be 4 ex officio Members, and then there would also be certain other nominated Members. These nominated Members were not to exceed 9 in number, at the option of the Governor; and he might say that Sir Henry Norman, than whom a better man could hardly be found, was naturally anxious to give the largest possible interpretation to the instructions which the Government gave him, and he was determined not to appoint more than 6 official Members at first, and it was hoped that it would never be necessary to appoint more. Sir Henry Norman was authorized to appoint 9; but he was not going to appoint more than 6. There would be, it was true, 7 at first; but that was because there was a person already 717 there who would be retained; but when a vacancy took place it would not be filled up; and, therefore, there would in future be not more than 6, so as to insure that there should not be a majority of official Members. The nominated Members would form the official side, and then there would be the elected side. There would be 9 elected Members, and the franchise would be a much lower one than under the old form. The franchise had been recommended to the Government by the Royal Commissioners —all of them residents in Jamaica—and the franchise which had been adopted on their recommendation was one that would give about 15,000 electors.
Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,
§ MR. EVELYN ASHLEY
, continuing his remarks, said, the 9 elected Members would be chosen by an electorate of 15,000. They would not be elected by counties. His hon. and learned Friend behind him had amused himself by laughing at the geographical knowledge of the Colonial Office for adopting counties; but it was not they, but the Royal and Resident Commissioners, who had adopted election by counties. However, the Government had overruled that, and agreed that it would not be satisfactory to take counties, the population of which was so unequally distributed that it would not be at all a good arrangement. Nine districts would be taken without breaking up any parishes—in some cases they would be single parishes—and each of these nine districts would send one Member. He now came to the important matter of the powers of these elected Members. It would be embodied in the Order in Council, and not merely confined to the instructions given to the Governor, that whenever 6 of the elected Members should be united in opposing the passing of any law or Resolution affecting taxation or finance, they should have their way, and the official majority should not be employed to overpower them, except in any case where the Governor might consider and declare that the matter was of paramount importance to public or Imperial interests, and might so report to the Home Government. The same rule would apply to Ordinances apart from, finance—the Governor would be directed by instruc- 718 tions, not embodied in the Order in. Council, but contained in a document sent side by side with it, and kept on record that wherever the elected Members were united on a question of legislation, the official Members should not be employed to form an adverse majority unless he felt himself in a position to come forward and publicly state that it was a matter of absolute Imperial and paramount public importance. Now, that was not a sham concession; it was a real and vital concession, because nobody could pretend for one moment that the Secretary of State would send out to Jamaica, or that a man of the character of the Governor would desire to carry out an arbitrary act by defining a matter of genuine local concern only as a matter of paramount public importance. If such a thing were ever to be attempted, this House would take care that such an attempt was not successful. The fact of having to go through such a form—of having to make a declaration of this sort—was absolutely a check upon the Governor. It was clear that the Governor would not use the power of putting in operation the official vote in a matter where he had to make so solemn a declaration, unless he felt himself absolutely compelled by circumstances to do so. He (Mr. Evelyn Ashley) believed he was right in asserting that this scheme formed a distinct move in the direction of restoring control over their own affairs to the people of Jamaica. It would be a very great mistake to take too large and sudden a step all at once; and he believed it would also be a very great mistake at present to enlarge the numbers, as had been suggested by the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite. If the people of the Island had a majority in the elected Members, there was no good to be got by increasing the number to 14; whereas the experience of former periods had shown the difficulty of finding efficient and proper men to fill the places. He cordially agreed with the eloquent peroration of his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Serjeant Simon), that the people of Jamaica had proved their loyalty on many occasions, and he only hoped that they would now prove their common sense, which had also been proved already in many cases, and would see that this was a scheme which, if honestly worked, as it would be, would give them, for the present, a very con- 719 siderable and a very important advance in the control and management of their own local affairs.
§ MR. WODEHOUSE
said, that as the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite had made a pointed reference to him, he hoped he might be allowed to contribute a few words to the discussion. So far was he from agreeing with those who condemned the Government for the insufficiency of their concessions to the demands of the Jamaica Memorialists, that he was more inclined to wish that the Government had been somewhat less yielding to those demands. The substitution of elected Members of the Legislative Council for nominees of the Crown had been spoken of as an insignificant and unsubstantial concession; but it was the grant to Jamaica of a privilege not possessed by Colonies of such importance as Ceylon, Hong Kong, the Mauritius, the Straits Settlements, and Trinidad. Trinidad, which had always been a pure Crown Colony, was second to none among the West Indian Colonies for good government, progress, and general contentment. If, then, Trinidad, Ceylon, and the other Colonies which he had named could flourish and be content as Crown Colonies, why should not Jamaica? To listen to some of the speeches which had been delivered that night about the ancient Representative Institutions of Jamaica, one might suppose that there was some innate superiority in the people of that Colony; but those Representative Institutions were a mere accident of history. He would explain what he meant. During the 17th and 18th centuries, down to the time of the War of American Independence, England freely granted Representative Institutions to all her Colonies, even to the smallest of them. So long as she retained a strict monopoly of their trade, she granted them the fullest measure of self-government, and was indifferent to the cruelties they practised on aboriginal races. But after the War of American Independence, and when the conscience of England had been awakened about the treatment of barbarous races, she was no longer willing to leave such large powers in the hands of Colonists. Jamaica, being a Colony of ancient foundation, acquired her complete Representative Institutions as a matter of course, in common with, much smaller Colonies. The existence, therefore, of ancient Re- 720 presentative Institutions was no proof of superiority. The old Colonies were in no degree better than our more recent acquisitions, such as Ceylon and Trinidad. A great deal had been said in condemnation of Crown Government, and it had been unfavourably contrasted with the former Government of Jamaica; but with regard to that ancient Constitution, which disappeared in 1866, he would only ask hon. Members to read the debates which took place in both Houses of Parliament on the Jamaica Government Bill of 1866. Not a voice was lifted in any quarter of either House of Parliament to utter a single friendly word for that Constitution—from Whig and Tory alike there was an unanimous chorus of unmitigated condemnation. Secretaries of State and ex-Secretaries and private Members, who knew the West Indies well, united to declare that the Constitution had lived too long, because it had only lived to be the curse and bane of the Colony, and that the only act of real wisdom which illuminated its long career was the act by which it put an end to its own mischievous existence. The hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite had referred to some remarks of his (Mr. Wodehouse) as to the composition of the Jamaica House of Assembly previous to its extinction. If he had unwittingly exaggerated the extent to which that House was composed of Black or Coloured men, he regretted his error; but, whatever might have been the predominant hue and complexion of its Members, that Assembly bore an evil name throughout the West Indies for disorder and gross mismanagement of Public Business. However, it might be said that there was no question now of restoring the old Constitution, and that all that was asked for was such an increase of the elective element in the Council as would give them a majority over the official element. He trusted that no such concession would be made. Let them suffer the elected Members to have a majority in the Council, and then, while they would leave them free from all real responsibility as to the consequences of the votes they might give, they would arm them with the power of obstructing and paralyzing the whole administration of the Island. Of all Colonial Constitutions, the worst and most prolific of trouble were those intermediate Constitutions, which had neither 721 the strength of pure Crown Institutions, nor of what was called Responsible Government—that was, Constitutions in which controlling power was dissociated from, true responsibility. The hon. Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Evelyn Ashley) had said, a little while ago, that if the new scheme of Government was found on trial to give an inadequate measure of control to the popular element in the Legislature, there would be no reluctance in the Colonial Office to reconsider it; and he added that it was of the utmost importance that, in the meantime, all parties should combine to give the scheme a fair trial. But when the hon. Gentleman himself thus held out the expectation of readiness on his part to re-open the question, he might rest assured that the scheme would not have a fair trial. Similar language had been addressed to the Transvaal Boers, in regard to the Pretoria Convention, when it first came into operation, and the House knew what sort of a trial that Convention had had, and what its fate had been. He (Mr. Wodehouse) anticipated a continuance of what was called "Constitutional agitation" in Jamaica; and, for his own part, he believed that there was no Colony in which the Government should make concessions to agitation with more care and circumspection than in the Colony of Jamaica. Agitation was an old story there; and he hoped the Government would be slow to surrender an effective control over the affairs of the Island. Lord Derby had told a deputation introduced to him by the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (Captain Price) that the proximity of Jamaica to the United States was a reason why stringent Imperial control over the Island should be only provisional and transitory; but he (Mr. Wodehouse) should have thought that the proximity of the United States rather pointed to an opposite conclusion. Jamaica was so situated that it might easily become the scene, or the occasion, of international complications; and when the Canal through the Isthmus of Panama was constructed, the importance of the geographical position of the Island would be greater than it was at the present time. The hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite had spoken of the patriotism of the unofficial Members of the Council who had resigned their 722 offices in connection with the Florence case. He (Mr. Wodehouse) believed that one of those gentlemen, Mr. Michael Solomon, was in this country the year before last; and on his way home through the United States he was reported to have expressed to New York journalists the opinion that the real solution of the troubles of Jamaica was to be found in the annexation of the Island to the United States. He (Mr. Wodehouse) could not pretend to vouch for the accuracy and authenticity of that statement, which he had read in The Pall Mall Gazette; but if it were correct, the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite might form his own estimate of the depth and fervour of the Imperial patriotism of the gentleman in question. As he had said, he did not vouch for the authenticity of the report; but, be that as it might, he maintained that, whether they looked at the past, the present, or the future of Jamaica, there was every reason why Her Majesty's Government should not be too ready to yield to the clamour of agitation there, and why the House should not hastily approve such views as those which had been advanced by the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite.
§ MR. SERJEANT SIMON
said, he asked the indulgence of the House while he said a word in defence of an absent man. [Cries of "No, no!" and "Hear, hear!"] He had no right to address the House again, and could only do it by the indulgence of hon. Members. A most serious charge had been made against a gentleman whom he had the honour to know—Mr. Michael Solomon. When that gentleman was in England two years ago, which was the time referred to, he (Mr. Serjeant Simon) had a conversation with him respecting Representative Government in Jamaica; and, speaking of the franchise, he (Mr. Serjeant Simon) remarked— "You will be obliged to have a large and a widely extended franchise; what do you say to that?" In reply, Mr. Solomon made this observation. He said—"Every shilling I have in the world is in Jamaica. I would risk all, and have universal suffrage, rather than live under such a system as the present." Mr. Solomon, then, he thought, was not the kind of man who would be likely to express such a sentiment as that which had just been attributed to him.
§ MR. W. REDMOND
said, he did not wish to prolong the discussion at that hour of the night; and he merely rose for the purpose of saying that he was extremely sorry that the Forms and Regulations of the House would not allow a Division to be taken on a Motion advanced by the hon. and gallant Member for Devonport (Captain Price); because, if a Division could have been taken, it would have afforded him (Mr. Redmond), and many hon. Members who sat near him in that quarter of the House, much pleasure to have gone into the Division Lobby and supported the Resolution of which Notice had been given. They would have done so, because this question was one that involved the principle of self-government, the principle he (Mr. Redmond) and hon. Gentlemen with whom he sat were charged to support, not only in the case of their own country, but in the case of people all over the world who were asking that right. What was the state of the case as to Jamaica? Why, some 17 years ago the Representative Government of that Colony was abolished. The Under Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. Evelyn Ashley) had made a very strong point of the fact that the Representative Assembly of Jamaica was abolished by the almost unanimous vote of that Assembly itself. But the hon. Gentleman had completely nullified that statement by going on to say distinctly that that Assembly was one which did not possess the confidence of the people of Jamaica; and he had also gone on to show that the old Body, which abolished itself by its own vote, did not, as a matter of fact, represent the people of Jamaica, but merely some 1,700 voters. The House therefore saw that, in abolishing itself, the Assembly was not speaking on behalf of Jamaica, but simply on behalf of some 1,700 people who had the right of voting for the Assembly. That brought them to the conclusion that the majority of the people of Jamaica had never surrendered the right which had been theirs to some extent in the past, and which ought to be theirs again—namely, the right of self-government and the guiding of the destinies of their own country. The hon. Member who spoke last (Mr. Wodehouse) seemed to have a decided objection to any Black or Coloured persons occupying a position in any Legislative Assem- 724 bly. Well, in many respects, Black people were defective; but, at any rate, they were not defective in the love of liberty—a quality which appeared to be not yet born in the breast of the hon. Gentleman.
§ Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members not being present,
§ House adjourned at half after One o' clock till Monday next.